DBS expects to fix shortcomings behind November outage over next few quarters: CEO

In November 2021, a malfunctioning access control server led to the widespread unavailability of DBS' online banking services. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - DBS Bank expects it will be able to fix shortcomings identified after reviews of the bank's worst digital disruption in a decade, over the next few quarters.

This is despite the bank being unable to recreate the circumstances of the incident.

A malfunctioning access control server led to the widespread unavailability of DBS' online banking services from Nov 23 to 25.

Chief executive Piyush Gupta said on Monday (Feb 14) that two sets of reviews have been carried out by experts, who have not been able to "replicate the problem" of why the server malfunctioned.

"Nevertheless, we've learnt a lot from the reviews and it's principally around our incidents management and recovery process," he said at a briefing on the lender's latest financial results.

"It took us some time to figure out what the problem was and some time to fix it, and frankly, we could have done a lot better in terms of the speed of recovery," said Mr Gupta.

He added that a third review is under way to validate the bank's processes.

"I'm sure we'll learn from that and continue to improve and make sure our recovery processes, in particular, are a lot more robust than they were," said Mr Gupta.

DBS posted better-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings owing to higher loan growth and fee income, and lower allowances set aside for bad loans.

Its net profit rose 37 per cent to $1.39 billion, topping the $1.36 billion forecast by analysts in a Bloomberg poll.

Mr Gupta apologised in December last year for the serious service failure, which left customers unable to access the bank’s online services.

"The customers have the right to expect more from us and I share their frustration and their pain," he said then.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) imposed an additional capital requirement of $930 million on DBS last week due to the outage. This was four times higher than the $230 million that DBS had to set aside for a similar disruption of its digital banking services in 2010.

Mr Gupta said on Monday that the bank is not in a position to speculate about when MAS will lift the requirement.

"A large part of what we need to do, which is to focus on our incident management and recovery processes, we've got under way. We have a third review finished by the summer, so I'm fairly confident that we can fix all our bases over the next couple of quarters," he added.

MAS took 14 months to lift the $230 million requirement it slapped on DBS in 2010.

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